Some people out there seem to think that content writers are gods that commune with muses and tap into some creative ether that is only available to them. Content Writing seems intimidating and untouchable.
Though we’re sure that there are content writers that consider themselves godlike, but, truly, content writing is a skill that mastery is relatively simple.
However, there is reason that holds many people back from writing is the horrible and debilitating condition known as Content Writer’s Block. This terrible disease is one of the main reasons people are scared of venturing into writing. By fearing this condition, you’re losing even before you begin. Anyone can write content. Anyone can write great content. Anyone can write downright amazing and enthralling content.
Content Writing has been more of a hobby than a profession in the recent past, but with companies going digital, companies are picking content writers like you do the Green Gem from the pile. The best example will surely be the Data Categorization app, Squad Run who literally pays you somewhere between 4L-8L per anum just to learn and do what you are best at. Write Content!
STEP 1: READ
You must inculcate good reading habits. Read blogs, Wikipedia, newspapers, books, reports, opinions and everything else you can put your hands on. It builds perspective and makes you smarter and more aware. Additionally it helps you identify writing styles which are effective and which you would like to incorporate into your own style of writing.
STEP 2: BE PREPARED
Be prepared to produce fresh and quality content daily. This means having a good source of ideas, knowledge, and research resources at hand.
It is important that you have a knack for English and that you’re good with grammar. Also, be sure of your spellings, punctuation, and online readability expectations. It also helps to be able to write fast and accurately. If you lack in these qualities, be prepared to go the extra mile, work hard and get a hang of it before you think of building a career in Content Writing/Marketing.
STEP 3: STAY IN RESEARCH MODE AT ALL TIMES
Whether you’re writing about a product launch or industry news, it helps to get your story straight. Not only thoroughly research your topic, but also look to what others have written about the topic. Arm yourself with information, and your topic begins to form, making it easier to write.
In order to keep your queue filled with great content ideas, you need to stay in research mode at all times. Research shouldn’t be reserved for planning or writing sessions only. The quality of your content will increase substantially if you do it on an ongoing basis, as ideas pop into your head.
Here are a few pointers that you can look into:
- As soon as you get an idea, begin writing down ways you could develop it. You can wait till you actually have to produce your piece but to have a framework in your head always helps.
- As you read/browse the web, gather resources to use as reference material. You need to be an owl here, always on the lookout. Always keep in mind what you are looking for and try to connect everything you see to the topic of your piece.
- Use Evernote or Google+ to file your research. These being cloud platforms help you share your research if needed and get the right inputs.
STEP 4: JUST START WRITING
This one is a no-brainer. Armed with your idea and supportive information, you’re ready to get writing. Just start writing. It’s as simple as that. Don’t worry about what you’re writing, and don’t fall into self-criticism. And, don’t stop writing until you’re satisfied that you made your point.
Turn off your email reminders, put an automatic forwarding on your phone and close your door.
Some of the best writers in the world actually limit the time in which they write. On average, these brilliant writers write continuously for a half an hour and then stop. This trick seems daunting at first, but with practice, it’ll help you hone your writing.
There are a million freelance writers out there and some of them are really good and charge outrageously low rates. The only way a client will choose you over them is if you can create content which stands out. Our advise? Go after a niche and stick to it. Refrain from writing about anything and everything. Ultimately, freelancers who are paid the most are usually experts in their field.
STEP 5: WRITE IN YOUR OWN UNIQUE VOICE
Don’t try to copy someone else. Your content should have an individual style that is unique to your personality or brand.
Once you develop your own voice, you aren’t done. (Writers never stop working on their writing skills. As a content writer, you need to continually hone your skills too.)
Style is your most prized possession as a writer, and it should continue to evolve over the lifetime of your career.
Here’s an exercise that can walk you through the process of finding your own unique voice:
- Find 5 content writers whose style you enjoy reading.
- Select one piece from each that is representative of their work, or that you enjoy reading.
- Select your favorite of the five writing samples, and read it slowly, word for word, out loud if necessary.
- Study how that writer does it.
What does the first sentence looks like?
What is the format of introduction.
How is the article structured?
How is the topic is developed and ideas presented?
How is the article is drawn to close?
What was the call to action?
- Now you try to write an article for your own brand that’s similar to the one you just studied. Try to format your article the same, and imitate the style of your chosen writer.
- Do this for each writer. When you are done, you’ll have five articles of your own, each written in a style similar to one of your favorite writers.
- Review these articles. Select the one that was easiest to write and sounds most “like you.” It should sound or feel a bit like your own (or your brand’s) personality and style.
- Write a sixth article in this same style, making one small change to make it sound more like your own natural voice. Let your personality come through, your own way of talking, your individual way of seeing the world. You may keep the structure of your chosen writer. Or you may continue to use some of the writer’s style. But begin to make it your own.
- With each article you write, tweak this adopted style a little more until it begins to sound unique to you. Your goal is for someone to say, “When I read your posts, I can hear you talking.” That’s voice. And it should be as unique as you are.
STEP 6: TALK ABOUT ONE THING ONLY
One of the biggest pitfalls of content writing is that the subject becomes muddled. Without a clear focus, your writing may become distracted and wander in and out of topics. This dilutes your message and may confuse your subscribers. This point may seem obvious to some, but it’s absolutely, without a doubt, critical. By honing in on exactly what you’re trying to push, it’ll make your writing better and more effective.
Each piece of content should have one point. Only one.
The first thing you should do when you sit down to write is to figure out what your bottom-line point is.
After you write, the first round of edits is to make sure your writing stays on point.
For Example: “When work can be play” talks about how startup’s are building a fun working environment. The whole focus has been on the paradigm change in the way business is done today. That is the one and only one focus of the article.
STEP 7: DEPTH AND LENGTH SHOULD MATCH
There are two things that make writing difficult to read. One is not giving enough detail and giving only a spotty coverage of an idea. The other is to try to give too much detail for the space allowed.
Whether you want your content to be long or short, make sure you only go as deep as your length allows.
STEP 8: SPEND AS MUCH TIME ON YOUR TITTLE AS YOU DO WRITING
This is the make or break of your article. If your title is not good enough, your article will be ignored however splendid it might be. Your readers must be able to connect to your title. Your title should create interest and forecast the information people will find when they click through. Title really changed the destiny of your post.
“ Why Title Matter?
If you still have this question, this is the answer to it:
Blog post titles appear in:
- Search engine results
- RSS feeds
- Links from other bloggers
- Social media sites
- On your archive pages (depending upon how you format them)
In each of these occasions the title can be the only thing that people see and the sole thing that people make the decision to visit your post on. Write a boring, complicated or confusing title and it doesn’t matter what you’ve written in the post – very few people will ever read it. “
Here are a few tips for writing good titles:
- Communicate a Benefit
- Create Controversy or Debate
- Ask a Question
- Personalize Titles
- Use Keywords
- Use Power Words such as Free, Stunning, Discover, Secrets, Easy etc.
- Big Claims and Promises
- Humor Titles
10 types of titles that tend to perform well are:
- # of [Something Useful or Interesting]
- Top # [List]
- How to [Do Something Useful or Interesting]
- How [Brand Name or Celebrity] [Does Something the readers Wants to do]
- Best of [Category or Type]
- Why [Something] is [the Way It Is]
- Best of [Category or Type]
- Interview with [Celebrity]: [Interesting Topic or Title]
- Breaking News
- Secrets of [Something We’re Dying to Know]
STEP 9: MAKE THE FIRST SENTENCE YOUR BEST
You have about three seconds to hook your readers and get them reading. After your headline, it’s up to your first sentence to do the job.
Never mislead. Your headline and first sentence should take the reader smoothly to your main point. But do say something that makes people pay attention.
STEP 10: CRAFT AN IRRESISTIBLE LEAD [INTRODUCTION]
The lead (or as journalists call it, the “lede”) is what writers call the introduction to your content.
For very short articles, it could be the first paragraph or two. For books, it could be the first chapter. But for most content, it’s the first 100-600 words: the intro and your point.
Your lead must be compelling without being overly long. It must be a tease about what’s to come without giving away the gold.
Types of leads that perform well are:
- Fascinating Story
- Little Known fact
- Contrarian viewpoint
- Promise of Information available know where else
- Breaking News
STEP 11: THE CLOSE IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE LEAD
Good content answers who, what, where, when and why. Great content also answers “so what.”
Don’t let your content lose steam just because you ran out of ideas.
At the close of every piece of content, summarize your main point, then tell your readers how they’ll benefit from the information you provided.
If at all possible, go full circle by tying it back to the main point you made in the lead.
STEP 12: PLAIN WRITING IS BEST
Short paragraphs, short sentences, and easy words are the most readable. So don’t try to win any writing awards.
Digital content is not what you learned to write in English class.
Shorter and simpler is your mantra for better readability.
STEP 13: EDIT OUT LOUD
Great writing never happens in the first draft.
The first draft is usually a good effort at figuring out how to put your ideas into words. As a result, they’re almost always badly written. For all writers.
Great writing happens in the editing stage.
Reading out loud is an old, yet effective tip. Read your piece even before you run it through grammar checker. By reading it aloud, you’ll be able to catch grammatical and spelling mistakes grammar checker often overlooks (say, interchanging “there” for “their”). Also, you’ll get a feel for the flow and whether you’ve covered your topic thoroughly.
So when you write:
- Just get your ideas down.
- Write fast so you can keep up with your ideas.
- Then put your best effort into editing.
And don’t just settle for one round of edits. For high quality writing, you’ll need to go through several rounds of review.
Always, always cut your content down by at least 10%. Overwritten sentences will quickly become sharp and concise. Also, it eliminates any redundancies.
STEP 14: KNOW YOUR GOOGLE
Be aware that there are a lot of misunderstandings about keywords and search engines. At the end of the day, spamming with keywords is bad and will reduce the value of your content. A well-written, highly original piece will be attractive to readers and worth its weight in gold. If you focus on your writing skills and, above all, create interesting content, you’ll be fine.
If you have an email marketing strategy, chances are you’re not writing your content at the last minute. (If you’re rushing, then it shows in your writing!) By planning, you’re giving yourself ample time to develop your content.
Everyone becomes disgusted and bored with something they stared at for hours on end. You’ll begin to hate it and think that everything you wrote is crap. Setting aside your edited and reviewed content for a day or even a couple of hours, makes your content fresh and engaging. You’ll be able to spot any additional tweaks.
STEP 15: LEARN WHILE YOU ARE DOING IT
Content Writers are being hunted just like rhinos (Don’t worry!). With Digital Transformation at it’s all time peak and enterprises going social, we are at ever need of Content Writers.
If you think you have a knack for it, just do it. Startup’s believe in harnessing the knack you have for organizational benefits. Well it’s a 2 way relationship there. Starting from the biggest Advertising Agencies, like Tea Stall Studio to the quirky Dating App, Getvee every startup is shelling out shit loads just to acquire you.
The best way to try it is just go for it. There is nothing better than dirtying your hands in the puddle of mud which you love so much.